South Carolina from A to Z

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From Hilton Head to Caesars Head, and from the Lords Proprietors to Hootie and the Blowfish, historian Walter Edgar mines the riches of the South Carolina Encyclopedia to bring you South Carolina from A to Z. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

South Carolina from A to Z Archives (April 2011 to Sept 2014)

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South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1829, Catholic Bishop John England founded the Sister of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy in Charleston—using the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as a model for the new religious community. By the 1840s the sisters operated an orphanage, an academy, and a free school for girls, and a school for free children of color. They later established St. Francis Xavier Hospital in Charleston and Divine Savior Hospital in York.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“R” is for Russell’s Magazine (1857-1860). Russell’s Magazine was the last of the southern antebellum literary magazines and arguably the best. It was the magazine for the professional middle class—doctors, lawyers, and college faculty. Paul Hamilton Hayne was the journal’s editor. Hayne promised to publish “undiscovered genius” in the South because northern editors were reluctant to publish southern writers. The only undiscovered genius, however, out to be Henry Timrod.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“P” is for Port Royal, Battle of (November 7, 1861). On November 7th a Union naval squadron including seventeen warships and thirty-five transports (with 1,300 soldiers aboard) entered Port Royal Sound. The warships bombarded Fort Walker on Hilton Head and Fort Beauregard on Bay Point. After five hours of fighting, the Confederates evacuated the forts and fled inland—abandoning Beaufort and the Sea Islands. The Union suffered eight killed and twenty-three wounded; Confederate losses were eleven killed and sixty-one wounded.

"P" is for Port Royal

Apr 4, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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"P" is for Port Royal (Beaufort County; population 3,950). In 1869 Stephen Caldwell Miller began construction of the Port Royal Railroad between Augusta, Georgia, and Battery Point on the southern end of Port Royal Island. The town, railroad, and harbor facilities followed and Port Royal was incorporated in 1874. The town soon surpassed Beaufort in both shipping and commercial activities. Nearby phosphate deposits brought a boom and regular railroad connections with inland cities. Passenger ship service was established to New York, Liverpool, and Bremen.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“M” is for Mill Schools. Textile mill executives surrounded their mills with villages and most provided schools to educate the children of mill workers. The mill school was a reflection of the individual community and run with little interference or oversight by the state. Prior to South Carolina’s compulsory attendance law, children as young as nine went top work in the mills, depending on the family’s preference or financial circumstances. One of the most audacious examples of South Carolina’s Progressive movement was the creation of a high school in Greenville.

"M" is for Militia

Apr 2, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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“M” is for Militia. South Carolina’s early settlers brought with them the traditional English concept of a militia, the idea that every citizen had a duty to assist in the defense of the community. A 1671 ordinance required all men (sixteen to sixty) to serve in the militia and provide their own weapons. The Militia act of 1792 required all white males (eighteen to forty-five) to serve and supply their weapons and ammunition. The militia served primarily as a source of manpower for the regular patrols used to enforce the laws on slave activity.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“M” is for Military Education. Since the antebellum period, southerners have regarded military education as an excellent way to instill self-discipline, integrity, patriotism, moral virtue, and a sense of civic duty in youths, particularly young men. The South Carolina Military Academy was founded in 1842 with two branches: Arsenal Academy in Columbia that evolved into a prep school and the Citadel in Charleston as a college. When Clemson Agricultural College opened in 1893, it instituted a military program.

"L" is for Lynch, Thomas, Jr. (1749-1779)

Mar 29, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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“L” is for Lynch, Thomas, Jr. (1749-1779). Signer of the Declaration of Independence. A native of Prince George Winyah Parish, Lynch attended the Indigo Society School. He then travelled to England where he was schooled at Eton and then Caius College, Cambridge. He then read law at the Middle Temple. Lynch returned to South Carolina in 1772 and two years later was elected to the First Provincial Congress. In 1775 he was commissioned a captain in the First South Carolina Regiment. A year later he was elected to the Second Continental Congress.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“L” is for Lynch, Patrick Nelson (1817-1882). Clergyman, diplomat. Lynch was born in Ireland. His family immigrated to South Carolina in 1819 and settled in Cheraw. Bishop John England educated Lynch in his boys’ academy in Charleston and then sent him to Rome to complete his studies for the priesthood. Returning home, he was rector of St. Mary’s, Charleston and editor of The United States Catholic Miscellany. In 1858, he was consecrated the third bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston.

South Carolina From A to Z
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“H” is for Hopsewee Plantation (Georgetown County). Hopsewee Plantation is best known as the birthplace and boyhood home of Thomas Lynch, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is located south of Georgetown at the point where U.S. Highway 17 crosses the north branch of the Santee River. This was also the site of the main colonial thoroughfare running north and south, the “King’s Highway.” In the 1740s, Thomas Lynch, Sr., built the house that still stands at Hopsewee.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"H" is for Hoppin’ John. Hoppin’ John is a pilaf made with beans and rice. The recipe came directly to America from West Africa and is typical of the one-pot cooking of the South Carolina lowcountry. As the recipe moved inland, it became the traditional dish for good luck on New Year’s Day throughout the South. The first written appearance of the recipe in English was in Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina Housewife, or House and Home, by a Lady of Charleston.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"G" is for Greer, Bernard Eugene (b. 1948). Author. While working as a prison guard at Columbia's notorious Central Correctional Institution, Greer took creative writing classes at USC and later earned an MA in creative writing from Hollins College. He then worked on a fishing boat in Maine. During a long Maine winter, he began to forge his experiences as a prison guard into Slammer, his first novel. It was a critical and popular success.

"D" is for Dispensary

Mar 22, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
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"D" is for Dispensary. In 1892 South Carolina created the Dispensary, a liquor monopoly. In the early 1890s the state was poised to adopt statewide prohibition. Governor Benjamin Tillman, however, pressured the legislature to pass instead his proposal for state liquor monopoly legislation. Basing his idea on European models, Tillman portrayed the dispensary as a compromise between the private sale of liquor prohibition that would promote temperance and clean up politics. Counties could choose either to have a dispensary or prohibition.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"C" is for Catawba Pottery. Among the Catawba Indians in present-day York County, an unbroken chain of pottery production has helped preserve a cultural identity that was nearly lost after European settlement. Traditionally, women made pottery; but when the population fell to less than a hundred  in1849, everybody had to make pottery. This activity has helped maintain community traditions and is now one of the purest folk art forms in the United States. Production methods have not changed much since around 600 C.E. Pots are hand built using traditional coiling techniques.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"B" is for Beech Island [Aiken County; population 4,834]. Named for the beech trees growing in the wetlands of the nearby Savannah River swamp—and possibly a dead river island—Beech Island began in the 1680s as the Indian trading post, Savano Town. In 1716, the British constructed Fort Moore at Savano Town to protect the upcountry trade routes and to guard the western entrance to the colony. With the creation of New Windsor Township, offers of free land attracted European immigrants. Among them were a group of Swiss settlers recruited by John Tobler.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"A" is for Archdale, John [1642-1717]. Proprietor. Governor. In 1664 Archdale was in New England. In 1681 he purchased a share of the Carolina Proprietorship in trust for his son Thomas Archdale. From 1683 to 1686 he served as Governor of North Carolina in the absence of Seth Sothel. In August 1694 his fellow proprietors chose him to be governor of the Carolinas and he arrived in Charleston the following year. He had been given broad discretion to settle the factionalism that had made governing South Carolina difficult.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"W" is for Wannamaker, John Edward [1851-1935]. Agriculturalist. Civic Leader. Educated at home by private tutors, Wannamaker graduated from Wofford in 1872. After college, he assumed management of his father's farming interests. Keenly interested in agricultural improvement, he applied his considerable resources to agrarian research and innovation. In the 1930s he experimented with soybeans, seeking to develop a seed stock suitable to South Carolina soils and climate.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"U" is for the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The denomination was formed in 1958 with the union of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and the United Presbyterian Church in North America. Long-established lowcountry black congregations were part of the United Presbyterian Church. In 1861 when the South seceded from the union, the denomination had divided into northern and southern branches. After the war, black Presbyterians withdrew from white churches.

"T" is for Television

Mar 14, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"T" is for Television. The first snowy black and white images on South Carolina television screens were broadcast by a Charlotte, North Carolina station. It was not until 1952 that six South Carolina stations received their FCC television broadcast licenses. WIS, Columbia went on the air in April 1953 and WCSC, Charleston, followed a month later. WNOK-TV, one of the oldest UHF channels in the country, is now WLTX, Columbia. Many early stations bought their television cameras developed by Columbia native Thomas T. Goldsmith.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"S" is for St. John's Berkeley Parish. One of the ten original parishes created in 1706, the parish of St. John's Berkeley stretched northwestward from the upper reaches of the Cooper River to the Santee River through modern Berkeley and Orangeburg counties. The first Europeans settled in the area in the 1690s and by 1705 included Huguenots, English, Irish, and Barbadians. By 1720, enslaved Africans outnumbered whites three to one as the production of rice in freshwater inland swamps replaced the earlier dry cultivation. The parish church, called Biggin Church, was erected in 1712.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"R" is for Ravenel, Beatrice [1870-1956]. Poet. Journalist. Born in Charleston, she entered Harvard Annex [later Radcliffe College] as a special student in 1889. Twice left a widow, Ravenel turned to poetry (some of it splendid) and short stories (mostly derivative and plot-heavy) to support her family. She is probably one of the best examples of the influence of the Poetry Society of South Carolina on local writers. Through the Society she met Amy Lowell who championed her work. Ravenel's poetry in the 1920s championed the outsiders and the dispossessed.

"R" is for Ravenel, Henry William [1814-1887]. Botanist, diarist. After graduating from the South Carolina College, Ravenel acquired Northampton plantation in Berkeley County. He settled into the life of a lowcountry planter and began a life-long collaboration with the country's leading botanists. He was fascinated with mycology—the study of fungi--and published two works: Fungi Caroliniani Exsiccati  [in five parts, 1852-1860] and Fungi Americani Exsiccati [in eight parts, 1878-1882].

"P" is for Pardo, Juan. Spanish soldier, explorer. In 1565, Pardo travelled to Spanish Florida as the captain of one of six military companies sent to reinforce the colony. His company was posted to Santa Elena, located on present-day Parris Island. He was ordered to explore for an overland route to the silver mines of Mexico—thought to be just several hundred miles inland. He never reached Mexico, but his two expeditions provided a valuable look at mid sixteenth century southeastern Indians. On his second expedition he built six forts, garrisoned with Spanish soldiers.

"O" is for Opportunity Schools. Dr. Wil Lou Gray, the state supervisor in adult education, created a boarding school for young people who could not attend public school or who had not gone further than the fifth grade. The school opened in August 1921 at the Tamassee DAR School in Oconee County to offer educational opportunities for undereducated young white women. For a decade the school operated during August on the campuses of Anderson, Erskine, Clemson, and Lander colleges. By 1931 it was co-educational and in 1936 the Opportunity School for Negroes opened at Vorhees.

"N" is for the New Era Club. Founded in Spartanburg in 1912, the New Era Club existed for only a short while, but served as the nucleus of South Carolina's first statewide women's suffrage organization. White and middle class in its make-up, the club began disguised as a study group.

"W" is for World War II (1941-1945). Prior to the entry of the US into World War II, the federal government constructed or expanded military installations, including Camp Jackson (Columbia), Camp Croft (Spartanburg), the Navy Yard (Charleston), and several smaller bases. At least 900,000 men received military training in South Carolina. More than 180,000 Carolinians (including 2,500 women) served in the armed forces. Thousands more wanted to serve, but 41% of those examined were rejected for mental or physical problems.

"W" is for World War I (1917-1918). When Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, part of South Carolina was already on a war footing. More than 65,000 South Carolinians served in the armed forces. Eight men from the state were awarded the Medal of Honor. At home civilians supported the war effort through liberty bond drives, home gardens, and meatless and wheatless days. Patriotism cut across racial boundaries in broad support for bond drives and the Red Cross.

South Carolina From A to Z
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"B" is for Bennett, Thomas, Jr.


South Carolina From A to Z
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"A" is for Asian religions. In 1965, the US Congress passed laws liberalizing existing statutes regarding the entry of Asian immigrants. This had a significant effect on the religious landscape of South Carolina. By the 1980s the state had become home to emergent communities of Asian immigrants—East Indians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Laotians from Southeast Asia.  Prior to the 1960s the most notable Hindu presence in the state was the Meher Baba Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach.

" “W" is for Wofford College. A four-year liberal arts college in Spartanburg, Wofford was founded with a bequest from the Methodist minister and Spartanburg native Benjamin Wofford. The General Assembly granted a charter in 1851 and the then all-male college opened in 1854. In the late 19th century Wofford played Furman in the first intercollegiate football game in South Carolina, allowed fraternities on campus, and its faculty participated in the founding of the Association of Southern Colleges and Secondary Schools.

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